Stores expect shopping rush on Black Friday

Belk’s merchandise team manager Robin Valenntino arranges product in the Christmas area in preparation for the store’s Black Friday sale.

Holiday sales numbers at Lime Light Boutique in Lake Sumter Landing already have exceeded expectations — and Thanksgiving isn’t even here yet. Owner Christine Chaloupka made 50% more in sales than she expected during a holiday open house earlier this month. “If that continues, I’m expecting Black Friday and Small Business Saturday to be wonderful, which I’m looking forward to,” Chaloupka said. The National Retail Federation also predicts more shoppers on Black Friday this year. Last year, 156.6 million people shopped on the holiday weekend, and the federation projects that will jump to 158.3 million people shopping online or in stores starting Thanksgiving Day and heading into the weekend, according to a news release. Local stores such as Evelyn & Arthur, Lime Light Boutique and the Purple Pig will offer sales on Black Friday while big box stores such as Target, Walmart, Best Buy and Belk started offering Black Friday deals as early as the beginning of November. Chaloupka started stocking her holiday merchandise at Lime Light Boutique in the summer to make sure supply chain issues would not prevent her from having what she needed on Black Friday. “I wanted to make sure that wasn’t going to affect my store and my customers,” she said. “I really was trying to combat that early on.” Evelyn & Arthur gets new items almost daily, said Diane Hintzen, manager of the women’s clothing store in Brownwood. She expects to see more customers this year than last year. “I’m hearing a lot of people having visitors this year,” Hintzen said. “I do really think that people will come out and shop, because they certainly have been going out and shopping these past few months.” The Purple Pig’s merchandise also will get people in the holiday spirit. “We have so much new Christmas merchandise in the store that we have been lucky enough to get,” said Debbie Heiner, owner of the gift and home decor store in Lake Sumter Landing. “My store is full of merchandise.” The NRF expects the weekend to kick off another record-breaking holiday season, Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO, said in the release. He also added that Black Friday no longer is a one-day event, and many people start holiday shopping months before Christmas. Target started offering Black Friday deals around Halloween. On Oct. 31, the company introduced weeklong Holiday Best deals, which include Black Friday savings. It releases new sales in stores and online every Sunday. Target wanted to cater to those who like to start shopping early, Christina Hennington, executive vice president and chief growth officer for Target, said in a news release. Best Buy started its Black Friday deals last week, and Walmart brought back its “Black Friday Deals for Days” events for the second year in a row after positive reception from customers last year, according to a news release. For “Black Friday Deals for Days,” the store hosts three events in November with sales starting online and continuing in Walmart stores. Black Friday also already has started at Belk in La Plaza Grande. Shoppers over the weekend took advantage of sales on holiday items and handbags, but preparations started long before then. The store began hiring more staff two months ago, store manager Melisa Porobicwicker said. Porobicwicker thinks people are excited to do the holiday shopping they could not do in 2020, so business will be busy, she said. “The projections are encouraging based on the information that we have,” Porobicwicker said. “So we’re certainly hoping for a much better Black Friday than last year.”

Staff Writer Summer Jarro can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5404, or summer.jarro@thevillagesmedia.com. Specialty Editor Leah Schwarting contributed to this report.